Just an ordinary moment...
Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Appreciating My Pastors
I readily admit that I'm a church girl. I grew up in the church; in fact, one could even say I was born in the church as I can't remember a time when I didn't attend. So it's probably no surprise that the print "Sunday Morning" by Asher Brown Durand hangs above the fireplace in my den and blesses my heart even today. Like I said, I'm a church girl.
And so with October being Pastor Appreciation Month, I've taken some time recently to recall and think about the men and women who have filled the shoes of "pastor" in my life. [For some reason, we rarely called them Reverend or Pastor. It was always Brother so-and-so (always their first name). Unless, of course, they had their doctorate, and then they were Doctor.]
They came in all shapes and sizes; all forms and fashions. Some were eloquent in speech, others were less articulate. Some were witty; others were more serious. Most served by preaching; some by cutting the church lawn. They baptized us, married us, buried us. They ate with us, played with us, wept with us. They sat with us, comforted us, prayed with us. They taught us, encouraged us, and preached to us. And yes, some even fished with us.
And so on this last night of "Pastor Appreciation Month," I call out their names and remember.
The Reverend .... (Ironically, I don't even know the name of the very first pastor in my life. But I do know this; he held me as an infant and sprinkled my little head with holy water. That thought has given me long pause lately.)
The Reverend Billy Key (Brother Billy opened his arms and said, "Come!" And this 6-year-old did.)
Doctor Leonard Cochran (Being so young, I can't remember much about Dr. Cochran, but this church girl does recall listening to his "children's sermons.")
The Reverend Ellick Bullington (Brother "B" ALWAYS told me how pretty I was. That was a huge thing for a young teenager struggling with her self-image.)
The Reverend J.B. Smith (Brother J.B. was a retired associate at the time but so instrumental. It was to him my mother took me when I had questions and fears about life.)
The Reverend Tom Johnson (He married my husband and me.)
The Reverend Paul Sauls (This "Padre," as he called himself, was the first to welcome these newlyweds into his home in Louisville, GA. And the first pastor to hire me as a church pianist.)
The Reverend Ed Deen ("Pattin' Ed" would straddle his chair and talk theology with me like he had nothing else to do.)
The Reverend Wayne McDaniel (He was as real as they come and would just as soon minister in a fishing boat ... and often he would.)
The Reverend Phil Marklin (Phil encouraged my gifting.)
The Reverend Bob Norwood (He allowed us to watch him go through personal grief.)
The Reverend Jim Burgess (He prayed on his knees.)
The Reverend Eugene Barlow (God used Eugene to unearth my gift of teaching.)
The Reverend Jenny Jackson-Adams (The Lord used Jenny to transform my thinking about women pastor's, and one of her sermons to confirm our move back to Perry.)
The Reverend Bill Strickland (Bill is the one who sparked my passion for seeing the holy in the ordinary and taught me to see life from a different point of view.)
The Reverend Ed McMinn (Ed gave it all up and jumped in with us to start a new church fellowship.)
Pastor Sean Cooper (God used Sean to move me in a direction I never would have considered otherwise.)
The Reverend Parker Agnew (His reverence for the Word and worship continues to inspire me.)
The Reverend Don Caulley (Don is not afraid to ask me the hard questions. He's the real deal.)
No doubt, calling these names this last week has flooded my memory bank. All had and have their particular gifting. But if there's anything they ALL have in common it is this: at one time, they ALL individually heard the call of God on their lives and responded; and, in retrospect, they ALL were used by God is some way to transform me or my life, making me into the person I am today. In the words of Ray Boltz, "I am a life that was changed." And for that, I am grateful.
So to each of these pastors I say thank you. May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace (Phil. 1:2).
How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of the messenger who brings good news, the good news of peace and salvation, the news that the God of Israel reigns! (Isaiah 52:7)
Just an ordinary moment...